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CPCS is an acronym for Construction Plant Competence Scheme. Under some circumstances when working in the construction industry, employees and contractors may be required to hold a CPCS card.

This is an indication that the holder meets required standards for performing particular roles in construction. Here is a  brief overview of who needs a CPCS card and how such individuals can obtain one. It is recommended that employees and employers in the field of construction, and especially plant operation, should become familiar with this material.

What is a CPCS card?

In more specific terms, a CPCS card is an industry standard identification that an individual has the necessary knowledge and competence to work as a plant operator within the field of construction.

The knowledge and competence required is in defined categories, these are professional construction and plant competence, and health and safety requirements and procedures in plant operation. With the CPCS card system in place, employers can be confident that their staff members have the necessary skills and experience to carry out the tasks required within the context of plant operation.

The necessary skills and knowledge are maintained over time, as card holders are required to stay up to date on industry developments through periodic refresher courses.

Why is a CPCS card necessary?

The CPCS scheme became operational in 2003. The objective of the scheme is to ensure that employers and plant operators can have confidence that they are meeting the required standards in health and safety legislation.

This improves the overall approach towards safety in the industry and avoids any penalties that might be imposed by the authorities should safety procedures not be adequate, or not in accordance with regulations. Employing only CPCS card holders in the relevant positions ensures that individuals who possess, and maintain, the knowledge and competence to safeguard plant safety and meet legislative requirements, hold these key roles.

To meet these objectives, applicants for positions in the operation of plant equipment on various construction sites are required to be CPCS cardholders. Most plant operators on the Major Contractors Group (MCG) and National Contractors Federation (NCF) sites have to be CPCS cardholders in order to be considered for these positions. Other plant and construction sites are also implementing similar requirements, with both the CPCS card and within the amalgamated CSCS scheme, which has a broader application within the whole construction industry. 


How to get a CPCS card

There are three types of card within the CPCS scheme - the trained operator card, the competent operator card, and the tester card. Each of these cards requires theoretical and practical tests that can be taken at any approved site nationwide, or at one of the designated regional test centres. In addition, experience and expertise should be demonstrated through ongoing documentation, such as a professional logbook. 

The trained operator card, also known as the red card, is the first step, and this is issued for a non-renewable two-year period. A more advanced step, the competent operator card, also known as the blue card, is valid for five years and is renewable, making this the preferred card type for many plant operator positions that are to be held over a longer period of time.

The most advanced card type, the tester card, is issued to individuals who have demonstrated thorough knowledge and ability in relation to all plant operation environments, and this card signifies that an individual is qualified as a tester for the CPCS scheme. A temporary tester card, known as a black card, can be obtained as a provisional step towards this qualification.

Applications for the relevant tests, material to help in preparation for the tests, and details of the other requirements in relation to experience and documentation to be met in order to qualify for the CPCS card, are available online from the issuing authorities.

At Tomlins Training we can provide all the training and testing your need in one place to get you qualified.

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